MariaOrtega, 15, and her son, Miguel, decorate sugar cookies on Feb. 12 at a meetingfor teenage parents participating in the Oklahoma Parents As Teachers Program.In Tahlequah, Okla. (Photo by Christina Good Voice)

Cherokee Nation and Tahlequah Schools offer new Head Start

BY CHRISTINA GOODVOICE
02/25/2010 07:07 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Cherokee Nation and Tahlequah Public Schools are partnering to offer an Early Head Start class for children of teen parents attending Tahlequah High School. The class is set to begin this spring at THS.

The class will care for nearly 50 children between the ages of 6 weeks to 3 years. THS will provide the on-campus facility, while the tribe will provide staff and other necessities.

The facility will be located in the same building as the Tahlequah Central Academy, an alternative education program where many teen parents attend classes.

“Tahlequah Public Schools is excited to be partnering with the Cherokee Nation Head Start to expand their program to serve our students who are teen parents,” said TPS Assistant Superintendent Billie Jordan. “We have recognized the need for this program for years and have searched for ways to provide this service so that teen parents can attend school and at the same time learn hands-on parenting skills while their babies receive quality child care.”

Laura Baltazar, 19, said she’s excited the class is nearly open because it would give her peace of mind knowing her children, 3-year-old Elder and 7-month-old Eyzel, would be cared for.

“It’ll be easier because they’ll just be right there,” she said.

Bethany McDonald, who is with the Oklahoma Parents As Teachers at Central Academy, said the class would also allow parents to ease their minds about paying for daycare.

Baltazar said she pays $400 a month for daycare, but with the class she can start saving that money.

“This will help save a lot of money,” she said. “A lot of young moms, we want to come to school but we have our babies.”

McDonald, who works daily with the teen parents on parenting skills, said she sees the class as removing an obstacle to their learning.

“I see a great way for our (OPAT) program to partner with the Head Start,” she said. “I see it merging so well. We’re going to be able to have better access to our teen moms. They’re going to be right here.”

Some teen moms said the class would also help them be able to concentrate more on school if they know their babies are in good hands. Maria Ortega, 15, said she’ll be able to focus better once the Head Start opens because her 10-month-old son Miguel will down the hall.

“It’s going to be easier,” she said. “He’ll be closer to me.”

Principal Chief Chad Smith said the CN created the program to be a good partner in the community, to keep teenage parents in school to finish their educations and get the fathers of the children involved in the children’s lives.

“Through establishing this partnership with the school, we can help provide a way for the students to continue their education, which in turn will help the community,” he said.

Tribal and school officials agreed that students have a better chance of attending college or another form of post-secondary education upon graduation from high school.

Doing so will help the students better provide for their family later, Jordan said.

“There is so much research showing what an effective program it is anyway and how well those babies do in school,” she said. “If we want to talk about really overcoming poverty, Head Start is a great way.”

Education

BY STAFF REPORTS
05/19/2016 10:00 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizens Jackson Wells and Ashlyn King are, respectively, the valedictorian and salutatorian for Sequoyah High School’s class of 2016. The school’s graduation is at 6:30 p.m. on May 20 at the Place Where They Play gym. “This year’s graduating class has outstanding leaders who will go on to do many great things,” Sequoyah Superintendent Leroy Qualls said. “We are proud of their accomplishments and wish them a bright future as they move into their next journey.” Wells, 18, of Tahlequah, has a 4.57 GPA and is attending Brown University this fall. “My grandpa has always been my biggest motivation because he always believed in me,” Wells said. “He is the wisest person I have ever met and everything he has said has always driven me.” Wells completed 36 hours of concurrent college courses at Northeastern State University while in high school. He is also in National Honor Society, student council, academic team, chess club, yearbook, drama club and band. King, 18, of Tahlequah, has a 4.26 GPA and is attending the University of Oklahoma this fall. King is a member of NHS and drama club. She is also the percussion section leader in the school’s marching band and president of Students Working Against Tobacco. King has completed 17 hours of concurrent college courses at NSU and is taking six hours of summer classes at OU. “I will really miss marching band,” King said. “One of the most memorable moments I will always have is during my sophomore year we won a trophy for best drum line of the year in a competition and the trophy was about 4 feet tall. It was awesome.” King plans to study biochemistry and Wells is undecided, but hopes to one day be a professor. The class of 2016 has earned $1.36 million in college scholarships, had two Gates Millennium Scholars and 33 seniors complete at least 12 hours of concurrent college courses.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/17/2016 04:00 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The Sequoyah Schools Summer Feeding Program will kick off on May 23. The program provides free breakfast and lunch to children 18 years old and younger. The program is set to run until July 8 and will be provide meals Monday through Thursday. Breakfast is served at 7 a.m. to 8 a.m. while lunch is served from 11 a.m. to noon. Adults may also enjoy the food and purchase breakfast for $2 and lunch for $4. Sequoyah’s cafeteria is located at 17091 S. Muskogee Ave. For more information, call 918-453-5190.
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/13/2016 12:30 PM
CLAREMORE, Okla. – The Indian Women’s Pocahontas Club will sponsor 10 Cherokee students’ with a $600 per academic year scholarship or endowment. The scholarship applications will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis for full-time students enrolled in an accredited institution of higher education, according to a release. Applications must be received by July 31. For more information regarding eligibility requirements, call Vicki at 918-798-0771 or visit <a href="http://www.iwpclub.org" target="_blank">www.iwpclub.org</a>.
BY STACIE GUTHRIE
Reporter – @cp_sguthrie
05/13/2016 08:15 AM
STILLWATER, Okla. – Cherokee Nation citizen Megan Baker, an 18-year-old sophomore at Oklahoma State University, was recently crowned as the university’s Miss American Indian 2016-17. With the title comes responsibility and Baker said she is ready for it. “I was filled with pride to be chosen as a Native American representative for Oklahoma State University and was anxious to make a difference in my community,” she said. Baker said earning the title has led her to “countless” opportunities. “I recently have been chosen to attend the sixth annual Native Women’s Leadership Academy, along with (CN citizen) Cierra Fields, to represent Cherokee Nation. It means that I am going to be a representative of the Cherokee Nation and my school,” she said. Baker said she is involved with the school’s Native American Student Association, which she helps with different events such as the annual powwow. “We put on the annual powwow there in Stillwater. This year I helped with that for about 12 hours,” she said. “We also have Indian taco sales, which help us put on different programs.” Baker is a psychology major and plans to minor in sociology. She said she eventually hopes to become a criminal profiler or criminal psychologist and work with the FBI. “It has always been my dream to be an investigator of sorts and helping people is just rewarding in itself,” she said. Baker said before entering college she was a 2015 co-valedictorian at Locust Grove High School. “It was just the greatest honor that I could have received from Locust Grove. I tried so hard academically, taking all honors courses and being a concurrent student that it felt like I got the recognition and felt like they noticed my hard work as a student,” she said. Baker said being a CN citizen not only makes her a strong person, but also leader. “Our people are so strong and have been through so much and have come out of the ashes to become one of the best nations, in my book,” she said. “I think that there are so many great young representatives that are doing amazing things for our Nation, and to me I believe that to be a citizen, means to be a strong person and a strong leader.”
BY JAMI MURPHY
Senior Reporter – @cp_jmurphy
05/12/2016 08:15 AM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – Columbia University in New York recently accepted Tahlequah High School senior Miriam Reed for the fall semester. To pay for that Ivy League education, the school is giving the Cherokee Nation citizen an annual scholarship of $73,000 for four years. She is a Gates Millennium scholar to boot. With hopes of majoring in environmental engineering, Reed committed to the school in April. Several universities, including California Berkley, Notre Dame, Pennsylvania and Arkansas, accepted her college applications. She narrowed her options to Berkley and Columbia before choosing Columbia. That decision was affirmed after attending a paid trip to the school’s Engineering Days in April. “Everyone there was so welcoming, and they made it feel like a place that I wanted to spend the next four years,” she said. “Your admission counselors knew everything about you. It just really felt like home.” Reed said the Columbia scholarship would cover all aspects of her life there, including personal expenses and travel. Her Gates Millennium Scholarship, she said, would allow her to focus on school and not work. “That gives me the opportunity to study abroad. I don’t have to do a work study program, so I can focus purely on my school,” she said. “It covers 10 years of a college education, if I wanted to go get my master’s (degree) elsewhere. I don’t have to be pressured into staying at a school for four years…it also gives me the opportunity to lessen my grant that I got from Columbia to help someone else provide for their school as well.” Her long-term goals include earning a degree in environmental engineering and partaking in alternative energy projects for underdeveloped areas of the world. “I’m looking forward to joining their (Columbia’s) engineering club that they have there. They go out and they get to help different countries with water filtration systems and helping build bridges and just like really helping countries that are less privileged than the country we live in,” she said. In high school, Reed was involved in the Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps, dance team, National Honor Society, student council, science club, academic team, Mu Alpha Theta and Cherokee club. She also took Advance Placement classes in literature, U.S. history, calculus, physics and statistics. “I’m in the top 3 percent. I’m ranked No. 4 (in a class of about 300),” she said. “As the first of my mother’s children to go to college it means a lot to me that I was able to excel so greatly.” Reed said she’s dreamed of attending college outside of Oklahoma and that opportunities are more abundant elsewhere. “Once you get out you can see all the different diversity and the other options that are in this country for us, and I believe that once you gain different ideas and different opportunities from other places, when you come home it makes you appreciate home much more, and it gives you something different to bring back to your town.” Reed said. Other than her home, family and friends, she said she would miss the “small town life.” “I’m going to miss getting to walk down the street and see downtown. There’s not going to be the tight-knit sense of community that Tahlequah is. There’s going to be so much more people. It’s going to feel like that small town vibe is what I’m going to miss the most,” she said. She added that students like her should strive for higher educations. She also offered advice for when interviewing at colleges: be yourself. “Don’t feel like you have to act like someone else. Just be genuine and be who you are and let them see your character. They’re not looking to see that you know these large vocabulary words. They want to know that you’re a human being that has a passion for something. They’re looking to see that you’re involved in things and that you care about something.”
BY STAFF REPORTS
05/10/2016 01:15 PM
TAHLEQUAH, Okla. – The next Cherokee Speakers Bureau is from 12:30 p.m. to 4 p.m. on May 12 in the Community Ballroom located behind the Restaurant of the Cherokee on the Tribal Complex. All Cherokee speakers are invited to attend. Officials said attendees could bring side dishes or desserts. For more information, call Edna Jones at 918-453-5151, John Ross at 918-453-6170 or Roy Boney Jr. at 918-453-5487.